Smoking & COVID-19: Another Reason Not to Smoke

Stop smoking cigarettes

Facts and information about the coronavirus pandemic are constantly changing. Visit the CDC site for the most up-to-date information during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The CDC estimates that 34.2 million U.S. adults currently smoke cigarettes. That’s over 32 million Americans who are at an increased risk for premature death — smoking kills. Smoking also increases your risk for COVID-19, and it increases your risk for complications from COVID-19.

Smokers are at a higher risk than non-smokers for developing coronavirus disease COVID-19. Click To Tweet

Smoking increases your risk for COVID-19.

An analysis from the University of California at San Fransisco evaluated 11,590 COVID-19 patients. The study found that the risk of disease progression was much higher for people who currently smoke or previously smoked than the risk for non-smokers. According to Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, “Smoking is associated with substantially higher risk of COVID-19 progression.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with chronic lung disease, and those who are immunocompromised are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The CDC specifies smoking as a cause for a compromised immune system, and smoking is a major cause of chronic lung disease.

COVID-19 primarily attacks the lungs. Smoking weakens your immune system and increases your risk of respiratory infections. Because smoking impairs lung function and increases the risk of lung disease, smokers are at an increased risk for complications from COVID-19.

There’s not a safe way to smoke.

It’s not just people who smoke cigarettes who are at a higher risk for severe disease. All types of smoking — including vapes, e-cigs, cigars, pipes, and waterpipes (hookah) — increase your risk. There is no safe way to use tobacco.

Smoking, vaping, and even smokeless tobacco requires contacting fingers with lips. This increases the risk of transmitting coronavirus from the hand to the mouth. Sharing cigarettes, vaping devices, or mouth pieces (hookah) with others could also lead to transmitting COVID-19.

Frequent hand washing is one of the ways that you can lower risk for COVID-19. Viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth, and touching your face creates an opportunity for the virus to infect a host.

There are many reasons why you should not smoke:

  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.
  • More people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer, and smoking is responsible for two-thirds of lung cancer deaths.
  • Tobacco is addictive and it compromises your immune system.
  • Almost all COPD cases result from smoking.
  • Smoking increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, lung disease, several types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.
  • On average, smokers live a life 10 years shorter than non-smokers.
  • Secondhand smoke puts those around you at an increased risk for chronic health problems.

An increased risk for COVID-19 and an increased risk for serious complications from the disease are two more reasons to add to the long list of reasons to stop smoking.

It’s never too late to stop smoking. The sooner you stop, the greater the health benefits. However, tobacco is an addictive substance, and quitting tobacco use can be difficult. 

You can get help. Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic offers smoking cessation counseling in Northwest Arkansas.